Art seen: January 30

''Yet another touch of whimsy'' (The Artist's Room)

<i>Go in search of your dreams</i>, by Emma Butler.
<i>Go in search of your dreams</i>, by Emma Butler.
The Artist's Room is celebrating the start of its 10th year with its now-traditional annual Whimsy show. Three artists are represented: Fiona Tunnicliffe, Crispin Korschen and Emma Butler.

Tunnicliffe's delightful ceramics watch visitors as they view the exhibition. Her cartoon-like animals have a cheerful disposition, and all-too-human expressions. In works such as Leaf Horses and her cows and rabbits, the animals are surreally decorated, seemingly tattooed with the crosswords, leaves, and texts which adorn them.

Crispin Korschen has produced a series of delicately coloured acrylic paintings, whose romantic sentiments are timeless and warm without being cloying. The works are populated by couples and small creatures, illustrating the simple lines of text which weave through the pictures.

Emma Butler is perhaps best known for her Ruby book illustrations and acrylics, several of which are present in this display. In these friendly pieces, we see a young female protagonist involved in numerous lighthearted adventures. Alongside are several of the artist's less well-known oil paintings, each depicting a more close-up portrait.

The exhibition is light and joyful, but is tinged with sadness. Two regular ''Whimsy'' artists are not present, with the sudden death of sculptor Cheryl Oliver, and major health issues to Tin Man artist Tony Cribb, to whom this reviewer wishes a speedy recovery.


''[sic]'', Zac Langdon-Pole (Blue Oyster Art Project Space)

<i>[sic] (detail)</i>, by Zac Langdon-Pole
<i>[sic] (detail)</i>, by Zac Langdon-Pole
Blue Oyster Project Space is displaying an exhibition by Zac Langdon-Pole, entitled ''[sic]''. The exhibition's title comes from an editorial comment placed behind text which appears to be somehow incorrect, to indicate a direct transcription, warts and all, of source material. The term is short for a Latin phrase translating to ''thus it was written''.

The exhibition, as with much conceptual art, is more process than appearance. This is as well - from the sight of a jumbled collection along the gallery's wall, the display is minimal and haphazard. The work, however, has deeper significance.

The arrayed objects contain all the light-generating fixtures of an unnamed New Zealand writer's home. The items are indirect evidence of the author's work - thus, by this light, it was written. They also imply that somewhere there is a writer who is not writing, as his workplace is unilluminated.

Analogies and metaphors spring from the display. We think of mediaeval illuminated text; we think of a writer whose spark of inspiration is temporarily darkened. The light becomes analogous to the writer's words.

As a display, the candles, lamps, and electronic devices seem mere clutter, but within that clutter is a mental link to a creative world.


''Variations on a summer day'', Kim Pieters (Inge Doesburg Gallery)

<i>... and you may ask yourself - am I right, or am I wrong?</i>, by Kim Pieters
<i>... and you may ask yourself - am I right, or am I wrong?</i>, by Kim Pieters
There is a song by Talking Heads called The Overload, written to sound like Joy Division, but guided only by descriptions of the latter band's sound. The music becomes an abstract interpretation of the idea of another's music.

Though that may seem an odd way to start an art review, it is relevant to Kim Pieters' current exhibition. Pieters has created a series of works based on lyrics from Talking Heads songs, and using the concert film title Stop Making Sense as a reference point, without knowing the music or having seen the film. The resulting work heads off at a tangent from the band's work into interesting abstract territory, also interpretations of the idea of an unheard sound.

Pieters' work - well-known around New Zealand but rarely seen in Dunedin - is distinctively bright and colourful. The works become - to use words from an accompanying poetic guide by the artist - total freedom [..] of choice and movement, like water around obstacles.

Guided only by song lyrics and a poem, Variations on a Summer Day by Wallace Stevens, Pieters has created visual tone-poems overwhelmed by warm blue sky and vaguely hinting at deeper blue structures beyond, half visible in the light of bursts of colour. The scene is set by the artist for the random events of a long, sky-blue summer.


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